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Old 10-28-2008, 12:14 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: was Montreal, now MD
Posts: 7,116
Cats and sprained limbs?

My cat hurt his leg somehow, just over two weeks ago. He's been limping ever since, heavily favoring the leg. I took him to the vet as soon as I noticed something was wrong, and the vet poked and prodded his legs to see where the injury was. His verdict was that it was probably a sprain or something minor because he didn't feel a break. He said Xrays were unnecessary, and my cat would just go easy on the leg while it healed.

Now, I don't know how he injured himself - he's an indoor cat and I didn't hear him fighting with the other cats or falling off anything. I don't see how he could have managed to break anything. But it's been two weeks and he's still keeping weight off the leg, limping a lot, not scratching himself with that paw, etc. From his response when I poke at him, I think it's probably higher on his leg, like maybe his hip, that he injured. He's a very active young cat (we call him the Murder Kitten because he's always attacking his kitty roomies), and he runs around and plays and fights despite his injury. He'll hop around and mostly avoid using the leg, but he doesn't seem to be in obvious pain, other than the pronounced limp.

What do I do with a cat that doesn't want to take it easy and heal? I suspect I'll be bringing him back to the vet this week, because I'm starting to worry, but I don't know what a vet would even be able to do for him. Has anyone else ever experienced a sprained cat limb? How long does it take for them to heal? I guess what I'm asking is, should I be worried or am I being an overprotective kitty mommy and overreacting?
Old 10-28-2008, 03:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 4,124
I would take your kitty to another vet. Get an X-ray and another opinion. It might not be injury related. It might be a hip problem. It could be a host of things. Until then, I would think bed rest is best for him.

My young kitty just had a nasty fall which started scary but ended well.

I had a rather large ceramic pot/art piece on a landing going up the stairwell. Considering the pot location, size and weight, we never considered it a risk for a cat (and it was safe from swinging doggie tails).

One morning there was a large crash. We found the pot at the bottom of the stairs in a zillion pieces. Zed, the kitten, came to the room and looked a little freaked out. We noticed he was dragging his back right leg and knuckling his paw.

We took him right to the vet and he wanted to take an X-ray of the back and leg. The kitten had already eaten that morning so we had to wait until the next day as they want to sedate him.

The next morning he gets the X-ray. The doctor looks them over and didn't have great news for us. Two of the vertebrae in his spine were mashed together. His back leg was swollen twice the size of his other leg. I saw both these things on the X-ray. The size of the second leg was quite impressive.

The vet assumed the knuckling of the foot was directly related to some form of nerve damage in the spine. He based this on the X-ray. He said there might be some surgical options down the road (spine or amputation of the droopy foot or leg). For now, the vet said, kitty needs bed rest for 4-6 weeks. He might recover, he might not, and he might gain 50% mobility of his back leg back. After 4-6 weeks we could explore options.

Our biggest hurdle out the gate is kitty poop. Sometimes a spine injury effects the nerves in the bowels - add the fact he is a full rumpy Manx in the mix (sometimes prone to bowel problems).

I opted to also have the X-rays sent to a specialist.

Bed rest? For a kitten? Hmmmm?

We have a large dog crate. I bought a small litter pan, fixed up a bed for him and in the crate he goes.

He shows no interest in using the litter pan outside of playing with the litter. Over the next few days we take him out from time to time and place him in the other litter box. A few days go by and he finally pees. Still no poo though. On the 5th day we get poo! I never thought I'd be so happy to see a big pile of cat poop.

I decided perhaps he's not using the litter in the crate because it's too close to his bed and food/water dishes. I go buy a smaller dog crate and we attach the two into a groovy two room cat pad. If he's got 5 more weeks in the thing, he might as well be comfortable.

About 10 days of kitty bed rest go by. He's got more mobility in his leg. He's only knuckling his foot every 10th step. He seems to be getting better. His attitude is great. When I take him out of the crate he's lovey and playful and wants to run around and break the house. In the crate he's mostly calm. It doesn't seem to bother him much - which is weird because normally he's running top speed around the house 23 hours a day. We keep the crate in the living room so he's around us. At night we cover the smaller crate (the one with his bed) in a towel and he just hunkers down and sleeps.

The 11th day we get word from the specialist. The problem with the spine is a birth defect - two vertebrae fused together. I suppose not too uncommon given a Manx is a cat with a spine mutation. Considering before the fall he could leap 4 feet in the air from standstill and was often seen doing skate tricks off the walls, the "defect" didn't effect his movement.

Now that we know we aren't looking at permanent nerve damage to the spinal cord, we figure it is safe to let him out of the crate.

A week out of the crate he's almost back to normal. His back legs are a bit wobbly when he walks but he runs just fine.

Two weeks out of the crate and he's back to doing 4 foot high back flips. I couldn't be more happy. He's a great little guy.

Sadly, I'm out a $3000 ceramic art piece (which was given to the family by the artist). I did save it and I think I'm going to glue it together. I suppose it will add to the story of the piece.
Old 10-28-2008, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: was Montreal, now MD
Posts: 7,116
Bed rest for a hyper kitty is not going to be easy. I don't have a crate or anything similar. Would I need to keep him locked in a spare room?

We're in a 3-level townhouse, and he's been zipping up and down the stairs easily, even though he's mostly holding the leg up and avoiding putting weight on it. I tried, on the first couple of days of his injury, to have everything he needed on the main level so he didn't need to navigate the stairs. I got a spare litterbox out, moved his food to the living room, everything. And when he had to pee, he got up and hobbled down the stairs to the "real" litterbox.

So I guess I need to lock him up?
Old 10-28-2008, 02:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 4,124
I wouldn't think a spare bedroom would work as he could still run and jump. The idea is to force them to not move as much.

Dog crates are cheap - $50 or so. The kind I have fold up for storage.

I'd look into one.
Old 10-28-2008, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Chicago, Far Northsider
Posts: 7,810
Everything Seven said. I haven't worked for any vet who wouldn't have wanted to x-ray that leg and the pelvis. You can't always palpate a break.

As for pain, if you're looking for a cat to hunker down and cry, that's not going to happen. Cats are extremely stoic about pain. The fact that he's not putting any weight on it indicates a LOT of pain to me.

If you want to wait on another vet visit or are avoiding the expense, then you MUST at least cage-rest the kitty. The fold-up style dog crates work great for this. You can put a blanket or sheet over it and make a cozy den. Use a smaller litter box in one corner, and the food/water bowls in the opposite corner. Towels, old linens, etc make great bedding in between.

Personally, I would want x-rays done so a bigger injury can really be ruled out.
Old 09-17-2010, 11:23 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 1
To Seven:

You have no idea how thankful I am to have randomly found your response to this forum online. My cat has the same exact problem and he is a Manx!! The vet told me that he was going to lose control of his hind quarters completely but that she couldn't be sure because she had never had a Manx as a patient before. My cat randomly started limping and has been for weeks so of course I took him to the vet for drays. The xrays concluded that 2 of his vertebrae were fused toward the lower end of his body. She said it was probably inflamed and causing his leg to act up. But thank you sooo much!! This gives me hope that my cat is going to live a full and healthy life. Please respond I would love to hear how your cat is coping with this problem
Old 09-18-2010, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
I had a dog with a sprain. It was hard for about two weeks we had to monitor him. Basically we blocked all the furniture so he couldn't hide under it. He didn't like not having a "den" anymore. He could get under it but not get back out.

Then outside was strictly a leash or tied to a tree. He had a huge backyard to roam in so he was not happy, but if it is a sprain, it'll heal but you just have to restrict kitty's behaviour. They won't like but they have no say.

I would suggest a harness for the cat and keep him on it till he gets better

As for spraining a leg? That is so easy to do. I once got a wallop of a sprain leg simply by stepping off a bus wrong. I said "ouch, then kept walking, by the time I got to work my leg was swollen up twice normal size. Simply stepping on it at a bad angle can do it

Where's his pic?
Old 09-18-2010, 08:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 11,853
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Where's his pic?
Did you want a current one, or one from two years ago?

I hope kitty is better by now.
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